Bank stocks rose with the broader markets after the Federal Reserve said it had voted to keep interest rates in their historically low range.
The KBW Bank Index rose 1.68%, to 51.41.
The markets were buoyed when the Federal Reserve's policy arm, the Federal Open Market Committee, left the fed funds rate untouched at near zero while reaffirming that it would stay low for the foreseeable future.
In other economic news, Standard & Poor's said the risk that it would downgrade Greece's credit rating had diminished, and a report showed that new-home construction in the U.S. fell in February. The decline was not entirely surprising thanks to last month's bad weather. It also wasn't as bad as some economists were expecting. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.41%, and the S&P 500 index 0.78%.
In banking developments, Bloomberg News reported that Citigroup Inc. was looking to expand proprietary trading to boost profits, despite government proposals to bar commercial banks from trading securities with their own money. Citigroup rose 16 cents a share — or 4.11% — to $4.05.
Other companies with sizable gains included: Zions Bancorp., 4.61%; Regions Financial Corp., 4.01%; BB&T Corp., 2.63%, and PNC Financial Services Group Inc., 2.3%.
Wells Fargo & Co. rose 1.3%; Bank of America Corp., 1.07%, and JPMorgan Chase & Co., 0.39%.